Recently I was talking with someone about Dan Winters' work, as usual I was probably drooling when they said something that stopped me in my tracks - "Why do they all look miserable". I had absolutely no answer to that, it also made me look through my own portfolio and those of photographers who I look up to. They have a point, there is a stoicism in a lot of work, I wonder whether we do that for mood or intensity.
It also took me back to another recent conversation with an editor who asked why I divided my portfolio to head shots and portraits, on what was the difference. My response was that a headshot has a specific purpose, it must look friendly and engaging, appropriate to the person's position - eg a CEO might be slightly more serious whereas a comedian is carte blanche to do something goofy - though I often wonder about reversing them :-). A portrait on the other hand is to capture the essence of a person, a mood or expression that exists just at that moment between two people.
Joining the dots, my favorite pictures from any session are those moments when people completely lose control and joy just shines through, and there is always one, I never delete them, don't care if the focus slipped or they aren't perfectly composed. I always know they are there in my catalog, for those rainy days in the artists heart when life sucks. They invariably never seen and I think that is a shame, and an oversight that I've now rectified by creating the "Joy" gallery to add to, why keep this kind of happiness to myself ??